I’ve been using Google+ since about day 2 of the limited field trial and in that time I’ve noticed that most people, even many of the geeky tech-oriented people, don’t quite get the finer points of messaging yet. It’s time to correct that.
One of the biggest complaints about communicating on Google+ I hear is “Why can’t I send a message to just my friend?” or “Why can’t I send a direct message like on twitter?” or worse, “Why do I have to create a circle with just my friend in it to send a message to him?”
The answer to the first two questions is “You can,” and to the last, “You don’t have to do that.” Let’s look at how.
Add More People
By default your shares will be posted to Public, but if you want to change that, click the X next to Public. That will remove the Public circle from your To-list.
If I wanted to send a private message just to our own Cali Lewis, I can just click the now-renamed “+ Add circles or people to share with…” link and start typing her name.
A drop down helps narrow your search down to the person you’re looking for. (Yes, Cali has two accounts. If you want to Encircle her on G+, you want this one. She doesn’t use the other.) Once you’ve selected the individual you want to share with, of course you need something to share.
This is an enormous amount of flexibility that’s being given to us with Google+ messaging, far more than you can accomplish on Twitter. You can do something similar on Facebook, but if you think it’s obscure HERE, you haven’t seen Facebook Groups.
A few things to note about this messaging system:
- You can share to individuals even if they have not encircled you. This will cause them to be notified of your message. Do not abuse this! It’s a great way to get yourself blocked. Hopefully Google will fix this.
- There is currently no special interface area for seeing messages that are directly sent just to you. This is something Google is aware of and will likely fix in the future; this is pre-beta after all.
- You can mix and match individuals and circles in your to-list as much as you need to.
- The mobile Google+ apps for Android, and the new iPhone one, support this type of messaging, but also feature Huddles, which is basically group SMS. This How-To only covers the standard share-and-comment messaging system.
- Much like Twitter, you can use +UserName (for instance, +Gord McLeod) to mention someone in a Share. Doing so adds them to the To-list automatically.
- Even more like Twitter, Google+ supports the @UserName convention as well.